Green Colleges promote agriculture, economic development in rural India

By Shruti Vasudev and Leonhard Fricke

It has been a month since Leonhard and I, both ESMT Responsible Leaders Fellows, have been in India working with Welthungerhilfe, and our journey has been nothing less than spectacular. In this past month, we have travelled to several places in India and worked with people from different religions, languages, and societal strata. GIZ has given funds to Welterhungerhilfe to set up “Green Colleges” across India. This initiative promotes sustainable rural development via capacity building and assistance in setting up and promoting microenterprises and other sustainable forms of income generation to control rural-urban migration. The project we took on places us as external consultants for Welthungerhilfe India, and our role is tripartite, wherein we first perform an impact evaluation of the project to date, then based on this we develop a business plan, and eventually assist with defining a brand strategy for scaling up the project.

So far about 15 Green Colleges have been set up in 5 Indian states, and we had the opportunity to visit one of them two weeks ago to get a first impression. We travelled to Aurangabad, a city in the state of Maharashtra, by means of a super comfortable sleeper bus, observing beautiful landscapes pass by. Upon arrival, we were received by our hosts, who are also the officials running the IIRD Green College in Aurangabad (the most recently established Green College). We had a series of field visits planned with them where they would not only show us the running of the Green College but also give us the opportunity to conduct focus group sessions with their staff and the past and current beneficiaries.

Several presentations and discussions later it was a true joy to walk into a running training session on goat rearing and watch almost 30 local villagers keen to make a living by perfecting the art. They were delighted to have us over; many of the villagers here are not educated above high school level but their determination to learn and apply their knowledge was clearly notable in their zeal during the discussions. They told us all about how they feel these courses support them as they set out to make a living for their families.

It was also a joy to see many women attending the sessions. Despite belonging to a predominantly patriarchal society, they were just as determined to contribute to their families’ earnings—perhaps an early sign of long overdue change and economic development in rural India.

We then visited the farm of two of IIRD Green College’s recent graduates who completed a course in poultry management and have even established their own microenterprise. As a result of their training, the two sons of a poor farmer who once relied on the unpredictable monsoon to support the family’s income through sugarcane plantation have now established a year-round sustainable income. Their happy faces, the pride in their father’s eyes as they showed off their new business to us, and the satisfaction visible among the IIRD Green College staff who took us on the field visit was truly a delightful sight.

Something that Leo and I learned that day was that no matter how small the impact you think you may be making, its effects are always magnified when done with dedication and commitment to the greater cause. We were also amused to see how hospitable the poor farmer and his family were—as soon as we arrived they rushed to bring us water and fresh fruit from their farm. Their big hearts despite their shallow pockets were admirable!

Next, we were taken to another village where the IIRD Green College staff along with other CSR contributors had established a water conservation project to support the village farmers. The village, run by its “sarpanj,” welcomed us in their meeting hall, where all the key villagers had gathered to witness our arrival and assist us in our project. A small ceremony was performed where Leo and I were each presented with a shawl and a coconut. We were told that Indians believe that “a guest is the equivalent of God.” That is why we were given this special welcome as guests of the entire village.

We were then taken to various village farms and shown the different drip irrigation methods employed by the farmers after training at the IIRD Green College. They told us about how their lives had improved because of the assistance of Welthungerhilfe and the Indian government. We conducted various focus group sessions here to understand the full impact so far and its potential future scope.

Overall, in the course of this one month, we have seen and learned a great deal about rural India, the efforts by the local governments and external agencies such as Welthungerhilfe to uplift the economy, and about the grassroot-level agricultural industry. Over the next months we will endeavour to travel to East India to study the impacts of the Green Colleges there through a series of field visits, case studies, focus group sessions, and surveys.

Along with our work schedule, we have also managed to establish a good sightseeing balance—each time we visit a new city or state we try to accommodate some exploration into the local culture, food, and architecture. For instance, in Aurangabad we had the chance to visit the famous Ellora Caves as well as the mini Taj Mahal known as the Bibi ka Makbara.

Internship Bound

So far ESMT has been nothing short of a thrill ride!

It seems like ages ago but I remember when the program started, I was all wide eyed and bushy tailed. Right now, it seems my tail has lost it fluff and my eyes now have depth due to all the short nights and long, long days. I have found myself in the ‘valley of despair’ few times during the first two modules of the program. However, the clouds parted after a while and the sun shone again. Continue reading “Internship Bound”

MIM @ ESMT – Module 2

An update

Amidst all the exams and assignments, I am writing this post because now with a more regular life here in Berlin my judgement would not be biased (and you will learn the significance of this word when you do as it might have been in my first post and also might help maintaining the continuity my first post.

This time of the year most of my class is busy applying for various internships and its tough to find one for a non-German speaker (so you might want to start early!). The career services at ESMT however have been quite useful in arranging some events which are helpful.

My overall experience in the first module was quite great in terms of the quality of professors and also in terms of the broad range of content that was covered during the class. Its quite surprising that in such a short time, we are equipped with a lot of techniques to analyse and make decisions based on data. I have learned various new modelling techniques and am quite impressed by the course content of some of the courses.

5 weeks into the second module, I cannot deny that its taking some time to get used to the work load again after quite a long winter break. Along with the regular work, the ghost of internship still looms. Continue reading “MIM @ ESMT — Module 2”

First month of Master’s in Management

Starting out in Berlin

Hello! I am now an ESMT student and since the start of the program 3 weeks ago, I have been wanting to put everything together including what is going on with the program, the classmates and of course, Berlin! So, I figured this would be the perfect platform to do so, since people might get something
out of this.

screen-shot-2016-10-14-at-4-20-04-pmThe first few weeks have been really promising, and the first week is the best welcome any university can have for its students, since we all came from different cultures and background, it was really good to have the first week to get to know each other. A usual conversation used to end up about getting to know something or the other about a country you didn’t really know well, also ESMT as well as the city of Berlin helps you with settling in as well.

Teaching Methodology:

Since I come from India, the universities I am accustomed to are a bit different in the sense of teacher student relationship, method of teaching, etc. I was expecting it to be different here, but this fabulous is not what I had expected. We got to meet the various faculties in the first week and a lot of faculties took interest in us personally, and greeted us every day and whenever there was a new class, one of the more familiar faces introduced them to us and so ESMT took a lot of care in making us feel at home (however I think this could be a “trap”). Decision theory is the first subject  we went through and looking back, I am quite amazed how much I have learnt in the last 3 weeks only! It gives me a lot of hope of the coming two years here.

Fellow Students and Classmates:

The students you meet on campus are really friendly and they always help you out with your queries regarding professors, exams, the internships, etc. Its really great to interact with them and have them give you the first take on whats it going to be like for the coming years. With the kind of work they did during their internships and the satisfaction level of each of them is pretty amazing too, it almost feels like career services helped them find the tailored internships somehow.

My classmates have been really really awesome too, they come from such a varied background and the diversity is another feat in itself. We have since the beginning of the program shared some group works, apartment issues, registration in the city, going through the german bureaucratic system together and of course partying together! All of this has had an impact on the class unity and I think we have a great and a verimg_20161010_231245  y interesting blend of people in the batch.

And now, Berlin:

I found myself, again and again, doing Berlin things. There’s really no way around it in Berlin

fotor_147603657571281Well Berlin is one of the most attractive attribute that ESMT students go for (if not the most attractive) and is rightly so. Berlin is a very vibrant city and its an amazing place to be. The people are more or less quite friendly (except for the lady at city registration) and you see a culture which in my opinion is hardly matched by any (and I have been to most of Europe). Sometimes, the nightlife of Berlin what it is glorified for (and rightly so), but the best thing in my opinion about this city is, even for people who don’t party much like me, there are ample of choices and things to do in the city (like Banksy art collection or the festival of lights, a lot  of places with historic significance etc.). Except for the fun part of Berlin another great feature of this city is its start up atmosphere, a lot of young berliners you speak to are very inclined to do something on their own and are generally very motivated in this aspect. There are a lot of start up meet ups which definitely provide anyone with an inclination to get the most out of this city’s ever growing start up space. Although I am yet to visit ESMT’s GTEC, I have heard a lot of amazing stuff about the centre and am very keen to meet them soon!

My main aim of writing this article is to give you a brief idea about the atmosphere and the positive environment around me, which is very highly  facilitated by ESMT’s super awesome faculties, admission team, the career services team, etc who always make you feel at ease and the surrounding ecosystem of your classmates and other study groups which provide you with a unique diverse and growth oriented atmosphere. This is what I think will steer ESMT to greater heights in the coming years!!

Summer Grill, July 3rd 2015

As planned, on July 3rd ESMT hosted a BBQ in the garden to honor the Kofi Annan Fellows and to present this year’s RLFs (Responsible Leadership Fellows) who have just returned from their 6-months mission. Apart from the Kofis (Kofi Annan Fellows) and RLFs, Friends of ESMT, ESMT professors and the Ambassador of Nepal also attended. The event was initiated and hosted by Prof. Wulff Plinke and his colleagues in ESMT.

Overview of the Summer Grill
Overview of the Summer Grill
Meet and Greet
Meet and Greet

After some casual greetings, Prof. Plinke started by telling a brief history of KABSF and the birth of the RLF. In a nutshell, KABSF (Kofi Annan Business School Foundation) was established to give a chance to talented students from under-developed countries to pursue higher education in leading six business schools in Europe. The RFL (Responsible Leaders Fellowship) is a program initiated to give ESMT graduates the opportunity to give back to the society through skills-based volunteering. The selected fellows are to provide a 6 months service to a deserving organization depends on mutual agreement between both parties.

This year’s RLF graduates are Mariana Helguera, Sergey Ten and Sherzod Abdujabborov who volunteered their services at TSiBA Education in Cape Town. Another fellow, Rahul Jain, worked with Welthungerhilfe in Zimbabwe, Malawi, and Mozambique. The four fellows shared their experiences, challenges, highlights and the priceless life lessons they learned with the crowd.

Left to Right: Rahul, Sergey, Sherzod, Prof. Plinke, and Mariana
Left to Right: Rahul, Sergey, Sherzod, Prof. Plinke, and Mariana

Next on the agenda, Prof. Plinke introduced the current Kofis who were present on the day. Due to the short notice of the event and different locations of KABSF business schools, there were only fellows from ESMT represent, but we strongly hope that the next event will be able to host Kofis from the other five business schools. Prof. Plinke, who is a leading factor in the formation of the Kofi Annan Alumni Association (KAAA) and who had drafted the KABSF First Years Report, introduced the six current fellows who are from MBA and MIM class. Each of them shared their experiences of being a Kofi, and how they expect their education in Europe to impact their future endeavours.

Left to Right: Prof. Plinke and ESMT MBA Kofis: Siyabonga Gobingca and Adeola Olatunji
Left to Right: Prof. Plinke, Siyabonga Gobingca and Adeola Olatunji
Ana Desiwijaya, another ESMT MBA Kofi, introduced herself and shared her experiences as a Kofi
Ana Desiwijaya, another ESMT MBA Kofi, introduced herself and shared her experiences as a Kofi
Left to Right: Prof. Plink and ESMT MIM Kofis: Matida Ndlovu, Sopha Nem, and Nelly Ogonda
Left to Right: Prof. Plinke, Matida Ndlovu, Sopha Nem, and Nelly Ogonda of the MIM class

It was a beautiful summer afternoon with good wine, good food, and good spirits. It had been a few months since we had last met up (as MIM students are doing internships), and everyone was delighted to see one another again. Old friends were reunited, new friends made, and endless laughter echoed until late evening.

Once again, we sincerely would like to thank KABSF, Prof. Plinke, Friends of ESMT, and others who are not mentioned here for providing us the opportunity to receive such a distinguished education and learning experience.

We are proud to be Kofis and RLFs!

 

from www.kaaablog.wordpress.com